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Afghanistan.

FROM the rugged mountains of the northeastern Afghan province of Nuristan to the flat expanses of Helmand province in the south, Combined Joint Task Force-82 is aiding the Afghan people and battling the Taliban insurgency.

CJTF-82 is the national command element for the U.S. forces that recently supplanted Combined Forces Command--Afghanistan.

In February 2007 the 82nd Airborne Division's headquarters replaced the 10th Mountain Div. headquarters as the CJTF in Afghanistan. It supports NATO's International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command-East.

There are currently more than 17,000 Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF.

"Those 17,000 Soldiers have done an outstanding job throughout the year providing security for Afghanistan," said Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the CJTF-82 commander. "They have found and defeated insurgents and terrorists in the toughest conditions, patrolling in dangerous village streets and in rugged mountain passes, operating out of more than 35 combat outposts and forward-operating bases spread out over a country the size of Texas."

"We are tested everyday by our mission, the rugged terrain and our enemies. But make no mistake, we're making a difference here," said CJTF-82's Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel.

Showing America's commitment to the nation to Afghanistan, a second Army brigade combat team was deployed to the area of operations in February.

Serving in Afghanistan today are the 4th BCT and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 173rd Airborne BCT from Italy and Germany; the Joint Logistics Command built around the 43rd Area Support Group from Fort Carson, Colo.; Task Force Cincinnatus, built around the 23rd Chemical Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash.; TF Rugged, built around the 36th Engineer Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas; and the 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg.

"This increase in Soldiers allows CJTF-82 to help the Afghan national-security forces and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan build security and governance," Maj. Gen. Rodriguez said.

For many of the Soldiers here, it is not their first deployment.

"This is my fourth deployment to Afghanistan," Command Sgt. Maj. Capel said. "And I know there are many other paratroopers who have completed multiple tours of duty here in Afghanistan. They bring a level of experience to our task force that is unmatched."

While providing security for the Afghan people through mounted and dismounted patrols, CJTF-82 has been working to expand the Afghan government's control throughout the area of operations, and to continue vital reconstruction efforts taking place across the country.

"Soldiers and leaders are also partnering with provincial-and district-level government officials through the planning and execution of extensive and comprehensive development programs, building rule of law and combating corruption," said Maj. Gen. Rodriguez. "In all these efforts to help fight corruption we encourage the Afghan leaders to live up to their own values."

The expansion of security and governance has allowed for significant contributions to the development of Afghanistan's infrastructure.

"Through a challenging and rigorous development program, we are helping the Afghan people rebuild their infrastructure and their country. Among the improvements are new roads and district centers, said Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Capel.

With more than 125 miles of road constructed in the past year, CJTF-82 is helping to connect the people to their government and improve commerce throughout the region.

"Those roads are connecting districts to provinces, connecting provinces to the national government, and opening up critical international commerce from Pakistan and the central Asian states," Maj. Gen. Rodriguez said.

The increase in development is enabled by improving security in many areas of the country.

Furthermore, increased security is a result of CJTF-82 working together with the Afghan security forces.

"Over 90 percent of our missions are truly combined missions showing the dedication of the Afghan National Security Forces and the willingness of the Afghan people to assume a larger role in ensuring they live in a peaceful Afghanistan," Command Sgt. Maj. Capel said.

"The Afghan national-security forces have been widening their scope to include corps-level operations such as Operation Maiwand and Operation Khyber," said Lt. Col. Ralph Hudnall, CJTF-82's deputy operations officer.

Operation Maiwand took place in Ghazni province and was the first time a U.S. BCT fell under the tactical control of an Afghan element, Lt. Col. Hudnall said.

"The goal is a stable country secured by its own forces and no longer needing U.S. Soldiers for support and mentorship," Maj. Gen. Rodriguez said.

In a country with an extremely high level of illiteracy, Soldiers are working to increase the education of the people. The education programs supported by the Soldiers are both for basic education and advanced job-skills training.

"Since January, Soldiers have worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Afghan Ministry of Education to improve educational opportunities for the entire country," the commanding general said. "Their hard work has resulted in the completion of 35 school projects and the initiation of 41 more, and throughout Afghanistan more than 5.5 million students have been enrolled in school this year. That's an all-time high.

"We're proud of the accomplishments of the Soldiers and Army civilians as they assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Afghan national-security forces and our international partners," Maj. Gen. Rodriguez added.

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Sgt. Jim Wilt is assigned to the CJTF-82 Public Affairs Office.
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Title Annotation:The Year in Review; Combined Joint Task Force-82
Author:Wilt, Jim
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:878
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